Salt Bae is the ultimate grafter. It takes a special kind of slicked-back-superhero to sell steaks to millionaires for tens of thousands of pounds – and he’s done it. Oh, Salt Bae, they cry – he’s spaffin’ salt everywhere, running up £37,000 bills and taking the mega-rich for all they’re worth.
Beginning life as a handsome meme, “Salt Bae” is the nickname of Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, who became known for spritzing salt and steak onto celebrities’ plates as they looked on in awe. See, for example, Maradonna fawning at meat-as-baby-Christ, or Leonardo DiCaprio loving it.
Then came the Nusr-Et Steakhouse restaurants, all 20 of them. Specifically, Nusr-Et’s dimly-lit branch in Knightsbridge, London, AKA the one that launched a tornado of discourse due its extremely expensive prices. Think: £9 for a Coca-Cola, a £50 cappuccino and £850 on a steak.
Given the huge figures, I wondered: How much would it cost to make a Salt Bae-style menu at home, and would it be any good? Armed with the company credit card, I decided to find out. The aim: replicating a few dishes from his menu, then cooking them for some people for their review.
First up: drinks!
A simple cocktail, AKA ‘Golden Cocktail’
Salt Bae’s main sell is that his luxury dishes come coated in gold. Little do the billionaire bar-surfers of the world know (or care), you can buy edible gold off Amazon for a fraction of Nusr-Et’s price. So, I load up and purchase 25 sheets for £34.99, thank you very much.
At the time of writing, the Nusr-Et menu included gold-covered eatables like the Golden Baklava (£50), Golden Cappuccino (artfully, inexplicably described as a 'Cappuciiiinooooo’ – another £50) and the Golden Burger (which, apparently, “is not a burger!”, for £100).
Sensing the company’s budget, I decide to kick things off with a delightfully simple cocktail. AKA, Salt Bae’s Golden Cocktail. Though his includes a few ingredients that mine does not, such as apricot brandy – meaning Salt Bae has access to better suppliers than my local Asda – they are essentially made from the same base ingredients: pineapple juice and seven year aged rum.
Chuck in some ice, do the cocktail-shaker-thang, then pour and voila: “Golden Cocktail”.
I serve some to my guest – a bartender in another long-ago life – who tells me the cocktail’s pineapple juice ingredient is every cocktail maker’s cheap’n’easy crowd-pleaser juice. People rarely drink it at home, but whenever they do, they’re usually “pleasantly surprised”. Woop :)))
Cost to me: roughly £3.50.
Cost at Salt Bae’s: £60.
Sautéed Mushrooms and Sautéed Broccoli
Next up: some veg.
Now, look – I know sautéeing some veg is entry-level cookery. But then again, I’m not a chef, and this has been bloody hard work already, and all I’ve done is purchase some ingredients.
Whack into a nicely oiled pan, add some chilli flakes (Chef Ramsey, please, I’m trying!) and shove it around a bit.
Same again for the mushies, then boom:
Sautéed broccoli and sautéed mushroom. See that steam? Ooooh yeah.
Cost to me: £1.50 for Asda’s finest broccoli, £1.20 for Asda’s finest mushroom.
Cost at Salt Bae’s: £14 for the broccoli, £12 for the mushroom.
Salt Bae’s Golden Tomahawk Steak AKA his signature dish
The primo numero uno at Nusr-Et is the massive tomahawk steak Salt Bae sprinkles salt on. In fact, more than the steak itself, it’s the presence of Salt Bae who sells his restaurants. The man looks like he showers in oil and rump-steak-run-off. On Instagram, he posts captions like “very sharp” or “very juicy” upon photos of him fondling food, or balancing a huge knife on his fingertip. Go to his restaurant and you can have him at your table, live in the flesh*.
(*TBC, depending on what restaurant he’s currently working in. There is only one Salt Bae, and there are 20 restaurants. So – yeah. At the mo, he’s probably in Saudi Arabia rather than London.)
With all this in mind, my bootleg dinner’s big ticket item had to be the Golden Tomahawk.
First: some salt. A well-seasoned steak is a steak that will be enjoyed. So pile on the fine crystal.
If you’re also operating from a long-suffering oven in a rental home, rather than a high-temp grill, the next step is to place your steak into the oven at 120 degrees for 40 mins.
Once cooked, it’s time to sear the steak. Turn the stove heat up as high as you can, add some butter and any more seasoning you would like – such as rosemary or garlic – into a cast iron pan (or whatever you have that works), then chuck the steak on top.
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.
Lastly, you’ll need to add the gold. You may have noticed that the Golden Cocktail had just the slightest sliver of gold leaf atop it. This is because a) budgets are the enemy; and b) the sheets are incredibly delicate and disintegrate at the slightest touch of a fingernail.
The steak, thankfully, is slathered in the gold. Tip: Use some sort of brush for easier application.
Then, in this Salt Bae world, prepare to serve the food. Which means: bringing the man himself, AKA on-a-budget Salt Bae.
I find some black washing up gloves, some sunglasses and get to work – lookin’ at the cookin’.
Ah yes – it is meat. Correct.
The crowd goes wild.
“Tbh, I’m very impressed.” – VICE photographer Jake Lewis.
Cost to me: £16
Cost at Salt Bae’s: £850+.
Of course, the Salt Bae edition of “Saltbae Golden Tomahawk” is made from wagyu beef – also known as rich person’s beef – which is part of the reason for the price increase. There’s also the fact he might serve it to you.
Still, Salt Bae’s money-sucking merry-go-round is a vehicle that has to be respected for the sheer insanity of the prices. If I could do it, I would – and so would you too. Undoubtedly, Nusr-et’s steakhouses trump anything I can do at home – they’ll serve thicker, juicer cuts and use non-Asda ingredients. But the real “value”, presumably, is a rich person’s desire to eat rich, golden thing.
So, how about that gold on top of the meat? I’m not sure whether Salt Bae’s is different, but here, in my corner of London, it’s still a tasteless metal.